Using Experience for Learning

Using Experience for Learning

Using Experience for Learning

Using Experience for Learning

Synopsis

What are the key ideas that underpin learning from experience? How do we learn from experience? How does context and purpose influence learning? How does experience impact on individual and group learning? How can we help others to learn from their experience?

"Using Experience for Learning" reflects current interest in the importance of experience in informal and formal learning, whether it be applied for course credit, new forms of learning in the workplace, or acknowledging autonomous learning outside educational institutions. It also emphasizes the role of personal experience in learning: ideas are not separate from experience; relationships and personal interests impact on learning; and emotions have a vital part to play in intellectual learning. All the contributors write themselves into their chapters, giving an autobiographical account of how their experiences have influenced their learning and what has led them to their current views and practice.

"Using Experience for Learning" brings together a wide range of perspectives and conceptual frameworks with contributors from four continents, and should be a valuable addition to the field of experiential learning.

Excerpt

The idea for the book

This book is about the struggle to make sense of learning from experience. Although we spend most of our time learning from experience, this aspect of learning is greatly neglected in comparison with that which takes place in the formal classroom. However, the world of learning is rapidly changing. There is an increased interest in such things as recognizing informal learning for course credit, new forms of learning in the workplace and, in general, acknowledging the autonomous learning which takes place outside educational institutions.

There is also a dearth of consideration of personal experience and the context of adult learning in current educational writing. Most of what is written about learning is from the perspective of teachers or researchers who assume that there is a body of knowledge to be taught and learned. What is missing is recognition of the role and relevance of learning from experience no matter where it occurs. Learning involves much more than an interaction with an extant body of knowledge; learning is all around us, it shapes and helps create our lives – who we are, what we do. It involves dealing with complex and intractable problems, it requires personal commitment, it utilizes interaction with others, it engages our emotions and feelings, all of which are inseparable from the influence of context and culture.

The three of us who have brought this book together use experiential or experience-based learning with people in various situations to help them learn from experience. In our work, we sometimes design specific events to create new experiences for participants; at other times, we work with their past and present experience, helping them draw learning from it. In doing this, our awareness of the potential for such learning has been heightened.

The book has emerged from our personal and collective interest in how we and others learn from experience. Between the three of us we have many educational qualifications, but we are nevertheless conscious that very . . .

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